Air Force Medal

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Air Force Medal
Air Force Medal (UK) Reverse.png

AFM (UK) ribbon.png
Reverse of medal and ribbon
Awarded by UK and Commonwealth
Type Military decoration.
Eligibility British, (formerly) Commonwealth, and allied forces non-commissioned officers and men
Awarded for ... courage or devotion to duty in the air.[1]
Status Discontinued in 1993.
Established 3 June 1918
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Distinguished Flying Medal[2]
Next (lower) Constabulary Medal (de jure)[2]
Queen's Gallantry Medal (de facto)[3]

Until 1993, the Air Force Medal was a military decoration, awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) and other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy".


The medal was established on 3 June 1918. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Air Force Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers, although the latter could also be awarded the AFM. It ranked below the AFC in order of precedence, between the Distinguished Flying Medal and the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

It was announced in the London Gazette on 3 June 1918,[4] but the actual Royal Warrants were not published in the London Gazette until 5 December 1919,[5]

By order of the Royal Warrant, a bar could be awarded to recognise a second award of the Air Force Medal (18th paragraph of the Royal Warrant).

Recipients of the Air Force Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "AFM".

Two awards appeared in the London Gazette on 3 June 1918.[6]

  • 11680 Serjeant Samuel James Mitchell (of Handsworth, Birmingham).
  • 106100 Serjeant Frederick Charles Tucker (of Birtley, Durham).

Twenty-nine awards appeared in a supplement to the London Gazette of 8 February 1919. See also Flight Magazine, 20 February 1919, at page 243. Further awards appeared in the London Gazette of 3 June 1919 (Flight Magazine page 785).

The first awards of a Bar to the Air Force Medal were published in the London Gazette of 3 June 1919. See also 26 December 1919 for pioneering intercontinental flights.[7]

  • Air Ministry, Kings way, London, 26 December 1919. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to confer a Bar to the Air Force Medal on the undermentioned Sergeants of the Australian Flying Corps in recognition of their valuable services throughout the period of the recent successful flight from London to Australia.
    • No. 275 Sergeant James Mallett Bennett, A.F.M.[8]
    • No. 8974 Sergeant Walter Henry Shiers, A.F.M.[9]

In 1993, the AFM was discontinued and, since then, the Air Force Cross could be awarded to personnel of all ranks.


There were two categories of award, either "Immediate" or "Non-Immediate".


An "Immediate" award was one which was recommended by a senior officer, usually in respect of an act or acts of bravery or devotion to duty, deemed to command immediate recognition. In such circumstances, the recommendation for the award was passed as quickly as possible through the laid down channels to obtain approval by the AOC-in-C of the appropriate Command to whom, from 1939, the power to grant immediate awards was designated by King George VI.


"Non-Immediate" awards were made by the Monarch on the recommendation of the Air Ministry and were to reward devotion to duty sustained over a period of time. This category of award could be made at any time during a tour of duty but, in a large number of instances, the award was given to recognise the successful completion of a full tour of duty, often of an instructional nature.

Numbers of awards[edit]

In 1918, twenty awards were made, in 1919 there were 82 and 2 Bars, and in 1920 23 more.

In the period from 1921 to 1929, only 25 awards and 3 Bars were made, and from 1930 to 1939 there were 59 more, including Flight Lieutenant Dominic Bruce (the 'Medium Sized Man' of Colditz fame), making him unique in British military history as the only person to have been awarded both the Military Cross and the Air Force Medal.

In the period from 1940 to 1945, there were 259 awards, including two awards to members of the Army Air Corps.

From 1946 to 1969, there were 348 medals and 2 bars awarded.


  • An oval, silver medal, 1 38 inches (35 millimetres) wide and 1 58 inches (41 millimetres) long. The obverse shows a bareheaded effigy of the reigning sovereign.
  • The reverse shows Hermes (facing right), mounted on a hawk in flight and bestowing a wreath, all contained within a laurel wreath. The date "1918" appears behind Hermes on the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II medals.
  • A bomb is attached to the clasp and ribbon by two wings.
  • The ribbon is 1 14 inches (32 millimetres) wide, and consists of alternate red and white stripes, 116 inch (2 millimetres) wide, leaning 45 degrees to the left. A red stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper right corners when viewed on the wearer's chest. Until 1919, the stripes were horizontal.
Air Force Medal ribbon bars
AFM AFM and Bar
UK AFM 1918 ribbon.svg
UK AFM 1918 w Bar ribbon.svg
UK AFM ribbon.svg
UK AFM w Bar ribbon.svg

See also[edit]


  • Abbott, Peter (1981). British Gallantry Awards. Savannah Publications. ISBN 0903754258. 


  1. ^ "Military Honours and Awards". UK Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  2. ^ a b "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3352. 
  3. ^ "JSP 761 Honours and Awards in the Armed Forces" (PDF). p. 12A-1. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "No. 30723". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1918. pp. 6533–6534. 
  5. ^ "No. 31674". The London Gazette. 5 December 1919. pp. 15049–15050. 
  6. ^ "No. 30722". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 1918. pp. 6520–6521. 
  7. ^ "No. 13544". The London Gazette. 30 December 1919. pp. 4145–4146. 
  8. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography - J M Bennett AFM*
  9. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography - W H Shiers AFM*